Judge orders porn suspect to decrypt his hard drives
Posted on 29 May 2013.
After having first decided against forcing a suspect to decrypt a number of hard drives that were believed to be his and to contain child pornography, a U.S. judge has changed his mind and has now ordered the suspect to provide law enforcement agents heading the investigation with a decrypted version of the contents of his encrypted data storage system, or the passwords needed to decrypt forensic copies of those storage devices.

Jeffrey Feldman, a software developer at Rockwell Automation, has still not been charged with any crime, and the prosecution initially couldn't prove conclusively that the encrypted hard drives contained child pornography or were actually Feldman's, which led U.S. Magistrate Judge William Callahan to decide that forcing him to decrypt them would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

But new evidence has made the judge reverse his first decision: the FBI has continued to try to crack the encryption on the discs, and has recently managed to decrypt and access one of the suspect's hard drives, reports Ars Technica.

The storage device was found to contain "an intricate electronic folder structure comprised of approximately 6,712 folders and subfolders", approximately 707,307 files (among them numerous files which constitute child pornography), detailed personal financial records and documents belonging to the suspect, as well as dozens of his personal photographs.

"he encrypted storage devices were found in Feldmanís residence, where he has admittedly lived alone for the past 15 years. In addition, the unencrypted Dell computer, which showed connections to the encrypted storage devices, has a login screen with only one username, 'Jeff.' And most significantly, the recently decrypted portion of the storage system contains personal financial documents and photographs clearly belonging to Feldman, whom the court has already found to be capable of using encryption."

"Such being the case, the government has now persuaded me that it is a 'foregone conclusion' that Feldman has access to and control over the subject encrypted storage devices," the judge explained his decision, adding that Fifth Amendment protection will no longer be available to the suspect.

Feldman has until June 4 to comply with the order. If he does not, he could be found in contempt by the judge and go to jail.

JSOnline reports that his lawyer expects him to comply if a district judge or the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals confirm the ruling.


Harnessing artificial intelligence to build an army of virtual analysts

PatternEx, a startup that gathered a team of AI researcher from MIT CSAIL as well as security and distributed systems experts, is poised to shake up things in the user and entity behavior analytics market.

Weekly newsletter

Reading our newsletter every Monday will keep you up-to-date with security news.

Daily digest

Receive a daily digest of the latest security news.

Thu, Feb 4th